In an essay for the London Review of Books, Perry Anderson discusses the changing forms of the historical novel, charting its development throughout the 19th and 20th century. Using the "best-known of all works of Marxist literary theory", Lukács's The Historical Novel, as a starting point, Anderson reflects on the "strange career" of the form in an essay traversing War and Peace, Alexandre Dumas, and Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.
Examining the classical forms of the genre, Anderson writes:
For Lukács, the historical novel was essentially epic in form. It was an extensive representation, in Hegelian terms, of the ‘totality of objects', as opposed to the more concentrated ‘totality of movement' proper to drama. But if this is a plausible description of the origins of the form, it cannot account for its diffusion. There, it was not an aspiration to epic totality that would ensure the enormous popularity of fictions about the past, but rather the pre-constituted repertoire of scenes or stories of that history, still overwhelmingly written from the standpoint of battles, conspiracies, intrigues, treacheries, seductions, infamies, heroic deeds and deathless sacrifices - everything that was not prosaic daily life in the 19th century. Here was the road, so to speak, from Jeanie Deans to Milady. The historical novel that conquered European reading publics in the second half of the 19th century would not offend patriotic sentiment, but no longer had a nation-building vocation. The Three Musketeers and its innumerable imitations were entertainment literature.
The July/ August issue of the New Left Review has been released, featuring, amongst others, the following essays:
Malcolm Bull: Levelling Out
Beyond existing articles about equality, might the praxes of permanent and passive revolution offer a way to conceptualise a more expansionary levelling? Drawing on motifs from Nietzsche, Babeuf, Marx and Gramsci, Malcolm Bull traces the contours and consequences of extra-egalitarianism.
Malcolm Bull is the author of the forthcoming Verso book, Anti-Nietzsche.
Activist and writer Bill Mckibben has been arrested in Washington DC this weekend while protesting against TransCanada's proposed plans to build a pipeline that would carry oil from the Alberta tar sands 1,700 miles to Texas.
Mckibben, who penned the introduction for I'm With the Bears, was campaigning as part of plans to raise awareness of the project and prevent its construction. Although he knew that he and fellow protesters risked arrest prior to the demonstration taking place, in a post for Red, Green and Blue, Mckibben emphasised the importance of spreading the message about these plans.
1) This is really really important. Jim Hansen, the world’s most important climatologist, has said that if we burn these tar sands in a big way it will be “essentially game over for the climate.” That’s worth reading again. The oil companies and the Koch Bros are willing to take a few years of big profits in return for cratering the planet’s climate system.
This is really really important. Jim Hansen, the world's most important climatologist, has said that if we burn these tar sands in a big way it will be "essentially game over for the climate." That's worth reading again. The oil companies and the Koch Bros are willing to take a few years of big profits in return for cratering the planet's climate system.
President Obama, thank God, can stop this one all by himself. The endless debate about how much he's been hamstrung by Congress doesn't apply here; the law requires that he, and he alone, sign the necessary certificate that this is in the public interest. If he vetoes it, the pipeline can't be built. As. Simple. As. That.
'Daily Humiliation' is from Alain Badiou's Polemics, first published in Le Monde following the riots in Parisian banlieues and throughout France in November 2005.
'Constant identity checks and questioning by police.' Of all the complaints made by the youth of this country in revolt, the omnipresence of police checks and being arrested in their everyday lives, this harassment without respite, is the most constant, the most widely shared. Do we really realize what this grievance means? The dose of humiliation and violence it implies?
I have a 16-year-old, adopted son who is black. Let's call him Gérard. No sociological or misérabiliste 'explanations' can be applied to him. He grew up in Paris, in all simplicity.
Jonathan Derbyshire reviews McKenzie Wark's The Beach Beneath The Street for the Guardian. He follows the trail of the Situationist International in Britain— where a significant turning point came in 1960 at a "shambolic appearance" at the ICA in London.
It was as romantic revolt rather than social critique that situationism survived in this country. Its principal anglophone representative was the writer Alexander Trocchi, whose novels of disaffected hipsterdom (notably Cain's Book) owe more to William Burroughs and the Beats than they do to, say, Bakunin. Today, Trocchi's influence is felt in the obsessive pamphleteering of the poète maudit Stewart Home, who revived Rumney's London Psychogeographical Association in the early 90s and continues to pledge his allegiance to "non-Debordist situationism". And a vestigial folk memory of situationist dérive ("street ethnography" Wark calls it), as it was practised by Debord and his lettrist comrade Ivan Chtcheglov in Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the 50s, is preserved in the literary peregrinations of Iain Sinclair and Will Self, where psychogeography is parlayed into a kind of Blakean metropolitan mysticism.